Queensland’s Move to BIM Highlights the Method’s Benefits
Queensland’s Move to BIM Highlights the Method’s Benefits
You may only see Building Information Modelling as an optional methodology. But that’s all set to change. More governments have mandated its use on projects. This article examines why.
You’ve likely heard of Building Information Modelling (BIM). Even if you’re not using or teaching it yourself, you know that it’s making waves in the industry.
But you may not appreciate just how important Building Information Modelling has become.
It’s no longer just a way for architects and engineers to impress clients. It’s slowly becoming the standard for the entire industry. As a result, universities that don’t teach it to their students risk introducing unready people into the workforce.
This isn’t conjecture. Several governments from across the world have made the use of BIM mandatory.
Queensland is the most recent. The state has mandated the use of Building Information Modelling for all infrastructural projects. Starting from 2023, if you don’t use BIM you can’t secure a Queensland-based project.
It’s likely that other states will follow suit in short order. But what does this mean for businesses?
There’s the obvious issue. If a business doesn’t start following the BIM method, it loses out to those that do. The business can’t pitch for the same work as a BIM company because this new mandate prevents it. This takes a huge portion of potential work off the table. For businesses that operate solely in Queensland, this could lead to failure.
This means that businesses and professionals must adapt to survive. They must start using Building Information Modelling. Otherwise, they don't retain access to these governmental projects.
Therein lies the problem. BIM isn’t something that you can start using overnight. It requires a great deal of training and an entire organisational shift. Some may not think that it’s worth it.
This article examines why firms should make the change and why universities must teaching BIM. It also looks at why the shift towards Building Information Modelling has occurred.
What is BIM?
One of the difficulties surrounding BIM is that many people don’t really know what it means. Researching the concept doesn’t always help either. Different organisations have different definitions of what BIM means.
The Queensland government recognises this. As a result, they’ve described Building Information Modelling as it relates to what they’re looking for from firms.
They define it as a design process that focuses on the proper management of information. This information management allows for more accurate digital representations of a building. BIM allows designers to use the information to show the functional and physical aspects of their designs. Moreover, the methodology allows for increased collaboration. Building Information Modelling creates a central information store. All involved in the project can access this store and add information to it. This centralisation allows for a sustainable design process. This limits mistakes and leads to more accurate designs.
The state’s documentation expands on this centralisation idea further. It notes that BIM include the creation of both graphical and informational data sets. In an architect’s case, the graphical data set is the 3D model they create. The informational set includes data that influences the design. All of this information enters a Common Data Environment (CDE). This is the shared space that all involved in the process have access to.
The key here is that the informational data set influences the graphical data set. Here’s an example of how this may work in practice. An architect may design a structure and send it to the CDE. However, somebody else involved in the process may enter an informational dataset that forces changes to the design. This back and forth continues until the design matches the information in the CDE.
This link goes both ways. The information affects the graphical design. But you can also access the information via the graphical design. For example, clicking on a certain part of a 3D model may lead to you accessing information about that part. You can see the materials used, the cost, and information about its spatial location. The key is that you’re looking at this on the model itself. As a result, you don’t have to go searching through a bunch of different documents.
What you really need to know is that Building Information Modelling is a methodology. What BIM is not is a single process. Instead, it’s a combination of different processes that result in more cohesive designs. All involved in the project must understand the information needs of everybody else. They actively collaborate from the beginning of the design.
This differs from the methods that many firms use. A lot of architects create their 3D models in isolation. They then solicit relevant information from different sources. This creates a more drawn-out design process. The architect has to keep going back to make changes when new information becomes available.
With BIM, the CDE contains all of the relevant information needed. This allows for easier passing of information from one stakeholder to another.
Queensland also notes that BIM can come in a variety of different forms, or “levels”. It outlines what these levels are as follows:
Level 0 is perhaps the most old-fashioned way of designing structures. It’s essentially not Building Information Modelling at all. Instead, Level 0 involves the creation of 2D CAD drawings. These are primarily used for highlighting important construction information.
There is very little collaboration at this level, if there’s any at all. Moreover, it uses antiquated forms of distribution. Those at Level 0 tend to send out physical prints of their designs. Few firms follow the Level 0 model.
Queensland believes that most firms today operate at Level 1 BIM standards.
At this level, firms combine 3D designs and models with 2D drawings. The drawings tend to relate to construction information. Such firms maintain certain standards with their 3D and 2D designs. Plus, they’ll make use of electronic sharing tools. Usually, the contractor takes control of this aspect of the process.
But it’s in collaboration that this level falls down. At Level 1, different disciplines are still separate from one another. Each creates and maintains its own data sets. They only get shared at certain points during the project, if at all.
This is the level that Queensland wants firms to operate at. At Level 2, the collaborative aspect of BIM comes to the fore.
This doesn’t always mean that everybody works from a single shared model. Each stakeholder may work from a separate model at this level.
Instead, the improved collaboration stems from how those involved share information. All involved share information using a common file format. This means that everybody can access the information without relying on others. As a result, all stakeholders can use the informational data set to influence their own graphical data set.
This level requires the use of the correct CAD software packages. They must be able to export to the same file format to allow easy sharing.
This is Building Information Modelling at its most collaborative. All stakeholders work from a single data set. There’s one graphical model and one information data set that influences it.
All stakeholders have access to these data sets and can modify them as needed. Level 3 eliminates the possibility of data conflicts.
However, few have reached this level of BIM. The industry as a whole has some concerns. This particularly relates to the graphical model’s legal status when all stakeholders have access to it. For Level 3 to become possible on a wider level, such concerns must get addressed.
The Reasons for the Shift
Queensland’s new mandate requires all of the firms that it works with to be at Level 2 Building Information Modelling by 2023. But why has it made that switch in the first place? What are some of the benefits of BIM that have influenced this decision?
The state recognises that many will ask this question. As a result, it’s outlined four key benefits of BIM.
Benefit #1 – It Saves Money
Every firm wants to spend as little as possible on achieving a good design. The same goes for the firm’s clients. Queensland points out that BIM allows for cost savings across the board.
It highlights three areas where BIM saves money:
- A better design process. Key stakeholders have more information at their fingertips. As a result, they can shine a spotlight on issues that others may not spot. For example, a construction team might point out an issue that an architect overlooked. This allows for the quick fixing of the issue early on. Moreover, BIM involves the client more directly. This leads to teams working from clearer requirements.
- Lower costs of construction. The extra information provided for the modelling stage means that there are no constructions delays. Moreover, Building Information Modelling allows for better scheduling. It also allows construction crews to prefabricate materials before building starts. This means less reworking, which saves money.
- Lower building maintenance costs. More efficient designs create more sustainable buildings. BIM allows for better maintenance tracking, which lowers costs.
Benefit #2 – Less Reworking
Queensland points to less reworking as something that allows for cost savings. But it’s also a benefit in its own right.
The collaborative nature of BIM takes away the manual aspect of error handling. Designers don’t have to request information from other stakeholders. They have it available and directly incorporate it into their models. This highlights conflicts early on.
With BIM, a designer won’t have to waste time on redesigning a model when new information becomes available.
This stands for all involved in the project. The time spent on the error-catching process reduces. Moreover, it becomes almost impossible for important information to get omitted from the design.
The end result is a more accurate design that took less time to create because it didn’t need as much reworking.
Benefit #3 – Superior Information Capturing
This is where the CDE comes into play. BIM allows for better data capture and sharing.
Here’s an example. The construction crew linked to the project may conduct a site analysis. This highlights potential issues with the construction aspect of the work. With the current method, they have to take time to send that information to other stakeholders manually. This leads to delays.
With BIM, all involved have instant access to that information. The crew uploads it into the CDE and it links directly to the graphical model. The designers can see straight away how the site affects the model. This allows them to make changes immediately, rather than having to stop and wait for the information to arrive.
That’s just one example. BIM provides instant and constant access to this information and all stages of the project lifecycle. This, in turn, benefits everyone who needs to make use of information that somebody else provides.
Benefit #4 – Improved Productivity
Queensland’s government says that improved productivity is the end result of this information sharing. Designers spend less time on reworking their models. Construction crews don’t have to wait around after spotting errors once they start building. Materials get ordered in advance based on the more accurate information available.
There’s far less waiting around when using the BIM methodology.
BIM allows for the optimisation of several processes. In particular, it cuts down on a lot of manual work. Important data gets added to a graphical model automatically. That’s several hours saved over the course of a project. Those hours get put towards other work that brings the project to a conclusion in a shorter period of time.
The Final Word
As you can see, Building Information Modelling offers several benefits. That’s why so many governments want to adopt it. Queensland isn’t alone in this either. Several countries mandate the use of BIM in projects. Plus, it’s likely that several other states will follow Queensland’s lead. In the end, BIM will become the standard.
That’s why it’s so important for universities to start teaching the methodology to students. Today’s students will enter an industry that expects them to know how to work in the BIM framework. If they can’t, they may struggle to forge careers and advance.
Your university may need help. After all, teaching BIM means your tutors must understand BIM. That’s where Archistar Academy can help. Our BIM Essentials course gives students a solid grounding in the method. They can then build from this upon starting their careers. Moreover, we offer courses in several BIM software packages, such as Revit.
Do you want to find out more? If so, please contact an Archistar representative today to find out what we have to offer.
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Posted on 15 Nov 2019